Monday, January 31, 2011

Players, What You Do Matters

And so we come to the end, both of this series of posts and of the lifecycle of a game. Forged by creators, its existence disseminated by journalists and its content discussed by critics, a game finally is experienced by players. In the literal sense, you all make this possible. Without you paying for our games, we couldn't afford to keep making them and would have to do something else.

But players have the ability to be even more important. The last thing I want is an audience that will shell out for whatever is placed in front of them. I want you all to keep challenging us (all of us, developers, journalists and critics alike) to push the boundaries. Don't be satisfied with tired rehashes of yesterday's successes; seek out and champion the weird, new things you like. And if a developer creates some new, strange thing you like, tell them. There's no better feeling in the world than hearing someone's reaction to a game you poured your heart and soul into.

Please, keep pushing us to do better. Encourage journalists to write more substantive, interesting pieces and tell them when you do. Find game critics who inspire you to think about games in surprising ways. And if you find something you connect with, champion it to friends, family, coworkers, anyone you know that also cares about games. The only way we're going to keep things moving forward and not settling in to a stagnant local maxima is to work together.

If there's one thing I'd love anyone passionate about games to do it is to step outside your comfort zone a little bit. Try to diversify your tastes a little. Find something that seems interesting, but you normally might pass up. Maybe play it with a friend and discuss what's interesting about it. And not just digital games, there's a whole world of fascinating board and card games out there.

Thanks to a friend, I've been sampling a crazy array of indie tabletop RPGs recently (there's a post related to those in the hopper). I've also been playing and loving the everliving hell out of the Battlestar Galactica board game. In both cases, not only has it planted all kinds of seeds in the idea soil of my brain, but it's also been a great reminder that games are fundamentally social experiences. Even if we're engaging with a single-player game, discussing it with others can enrich that experience by putting it in a larger context. And that community of players might be the best thing games have going for them.

Take away the anonymity of the internet, and "gamers" (I find that categorization bizarre, but you all know what I mean) are almost universally great people. I have been to every Penny Arcade Expo (west coast, anyway) save the first, and I'm still consistently amazed by what a positive experience it is. The enthusiasm and sheer good will is great. That same energy appears at game jams; I certainly saw plenty manifest over the weekend, along with some very cool games. There's something about games that sets a certain spark alight, and I'd love to see us keep channeling that in the right direction.

Thank you all for making what we do possible. And thanks for indulging in these last four ramblings. It's not the most eloquent stuff I've ever put together, but it's something I've been thinking about for a while and want to get out in some form or another. But it really comes down to just this:

I make games because there are things I want to say, but without you all, there would be no one to listen. Thank you for listening.



Blogger Jacob Clark said...

This whole month had made me hopeful for the future of gaming. This will be my first PAX coming in march and hope to make some new friends in the community. I think that as players we have the biggest voice which is the power of the purse. If you like a new franchise buy and and tell all your friends to buy it. We as players also have the power to change rehashes and make them new as well. Yeah there will be another Call of Duty but write Activision and tell them your starving for something new.

I also think as a community it is our duty to bring people into gaming. To many times we get written of as lazy, and not social beings. Everyone can be a gamer atari proved it long ago by putting pong in bars. People who write off video games just haven't found that one game that speaks to them and trust me in today's market there is something for everyone. We need to make sure that we promote gaming as a social activity and push ourselves away from the online craze. To many young gamers of today find okay just to graphical limits and play games that have online.

I am optimistic for the future and here is to 2011 let it be filled with the weird and the crazy games!

P.S.- I find playing bannagrams with friends and family to my table game of choice.

January 31, 2011 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great post! I really enjoyed this series of articles.

@Gaming in Public - I will also be going to Pax East AND it will also be my first! Small world we live in =P

I also just heard about Bananagrams from Rym and Scott over at I will definitely check it out!

January 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Jacob Clark said...

@Alli893- We really need to meet up and hang out at the convention. I am bringing my best friend in the world who wants to get into video game development.

The other thing I forgot to add is that people try to divide us gamers apart when really we are all working for the same goal of being accepted by mainstream society. I hope to some day see video games in the same category as books, movies, and music.

January 31, 2011 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Nels Anderson said...

@GiP Totally. Ultimately, the loudest an audience can speak is with their wallets. Support the stuff you like and encourage others to do the same! That being said, never underestimate how much directly contacting a developer can help (even if it's just self-esteem boosting for them).

@Alli893 Nice! We won't be at PAX East this year, but I hope y'all have fun.

February 2, 2011 at 10:21 AM  

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